life in the country

Have you been watching the evening
and night
sky lately?

20151023_190413Three nights ago, in the west
20151023_190523and in the east
DSCN8450and later
DSCN8451above Turtle Rock Farm.

DSCN8471Last night, above CommonWealth Urban Farm (also, photo below)

Tonight, Oklahoma,
an even almost fuller moon.
the fullest.

has come close
in the past. Right up next
to me on the porch,
hanging out there on the nearest Hackberry branch.
Forever in my life
she has captured my attention;
first in the song, “Mockingbird Hill,”
(my mother’s old records
must have introduced me)
and much later,
when we still had such things,
atop a tv antennae
in the spring,
throughout the summer,
carrying on exuberantly
that repertoire
of others’ songs. Back
at the farm these last nine years,
their songs,
are among the sure signs
of spring; and, at midnight,
those times I awake,
welcome company.
Around the farm,
Mockingbirds often fly close
as I walk the prairie,
lighting atop Junipers
along the fence lines. As summer
warms, and they have mated,
they fly and perch silently.
I don’t know why; they seem
to accompany.

Now comes autumn
and for the first time
in my awareness,
Mockingbird is close again,
stopping by the bird bath,
flying treetop to treetop
as I walk in country
and even in the city. And
they are singing. I don’t know
why. One time
I had the notion
that Mockingbird,
could teach me to use
my own voice. I have a tendency
toward the paradoxical, you see.
So I am tempted to wonder
if that is something to consider
again. But then I notice
I have indeed been hanging out there on the limb using my own voice.

Perhaps Mockingbird
is confused by a warm autumn;
perhaps they are mating again.
Or maybe they always have sung
in autumn
and I just now notice. I could
I’m simply going to be
for the song,
the accompanying,
the voice.


We gathered
to learn about
and practice
Living Mindfully in the Presence.
Gathered in a circle,
inside the pond house,
the morning growing bright
through the plate glass windows
that look out onto the patio,
the Big Pond,
the prairie beyond…..

Many of us strangers,
we were introducing ourselves
to each other
when a Road Runner
hopped up on a table on the patio.

We were all excited.
It sat there,
looking around
for a long time.
And we began to wonder
this Road Runner
had something to teach

Once, long ago,
a Road Runner came to the bathroom window
at the farmhouse
and stared at me for a long time.
It was a time of great movement
in my life.

But for this group
on this day
in this context—
Living in the Moment—
what were we to make
of Road Runner’s dramatic

By morning,
there was some insight:
perhaps Road Runner
shows us ourselves,
even Road Runner



Our March Newsletter:
Turtle Rock Farm is Going to Town

There are reasons
I’ve decided to spend a little time
regularly, some weeks,
in the city.
Mainly, I want to be engaged
with people living in the city.
Friends are in the city.
Most people
are in cities,
so I want to know:
how do we live in the city
so that all can thrive?
Though it is a good question,
it is a troubling question,
for me, personally,
since I would rather not bother;
I love being on the prairie
and wish more people could be there.
But this is unlikely to happen.
So this is not about choosing—
once and for all—
country or city.
I will never be able to do that;
I love the natural world in the country
and I need to be engaged with people in the city.
It is my life’s conundrum.
Knowing this may not always be the case,
for the time being,
I get to have a foot in both.

I have settled in a neighborhood
with friends close by.
This morning was my first exploration
on foot.
And suddenly,
the sparse apartment
doesn’t feel like a motel room anymore.
It feels like part of a neighborood.
I walked a block
to Douglas Park—
a full block of park,
on a hillside.
There is a playing field,
concrete paths,
gazebos with picnic tables,
a shiny, colorful playground,
I was glad to see cedars,
some as worn as they are on the prairie,
still allowed to stand.
There is a planting of crepe myrtles
and other trees—
as another winter storm is predicted—
are planted throughout the park.
It is not, however, a forested park.
And I know some neighborhood friends
with an understanding of permaculture practices,
are concerned that water
flows down the hill
and into the gutters,
while bags for water
are wrapped around tree trunks.
Swales and berms could slow that water
and trees could be planted there;
but, alas, there is this low-lying playing field
in the center….

DSCN3061Hilly Douglas Park

DSCN3069Crepe Myrtle Planting

DSCN3071The Playing Field, and beyond, Deep Fork Creek and Centennial Parkway







Another significant feature in this landscape
is Deep Fork Creek,
which parallels the Centennial Parkway
at this point in the city.


Deep Fork behind the apartment

Both are directly behind
my dwelling. The landlord
has seen six deer and a red fox
there this winter.
I keep watch,
and look forward to learning more
about the Deep Fork,
the watershed here,
the ecosystem and its parts,
the neighbors—
human and others.
As I walked by this morning,
one neighbor greeted me with
And, above the din of the parkway traffic,
I heard,
then saw,
a male Cardinal,
shining in a tree.
Then, on this beautiful morning,
slightly homesick
for knowing how beautiful it is on the prairie,
I heard an insistent, unfamiliar call.
instantly distracted from the homesickness in my belly,
I walked slowly around a corner
to see if I could see who was calling
and there was the bird who so often
accompanies me—
singing a city song,
I guess.
It was Mockingbird.



Here’s Our October Newsletter
Food! Music! Stars! at Turtle Rock Farm Retreat

As more cities are beginning to allow chickens,
people want to have a few in their own backyards.
There are so many benefits to raising your own chickens:
they eat bugs, till the ground, fertilize the soil,
provide delicious eggs and are great entertainment.

Recently, we held our first workshop on keeping chickens.
We discussed the challenges of keeping the chickens safe–
shared our experiences with skunks, racoons, coyotes
and other predators who find chickens irresistible.

We toured the farm and looked at the progression
of coops we have used for our own chickens.
Then participants built models of what they want their coops
and pens to look like.


We learned that the city of Norman now allows homeowners to keep four chickens.

One of our guests is doing her dissertation at the University of Oklahoma
on how individuals can affect change in city policy in the area of raising chickens.
We look forward to hearing about other cities that are
coming on board with chickens.

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